Capturing Manufacturing Cycle Times at the Source

In this blog, we address the challenge of capturing accurate cycle times in make-to-order manufacturing. This data can then be used to improve profitability, identify bottlenecks, track progress, and schedule production better.

In the make-to-order manufacturing, accurately capturing cycle times is essential for efficiency and profitability. Cycle time refers to the total amount of time it takes to complete one unit of production. This includes not only the processing time itself, but also setup time, move time, queue time, and inspection time.

The Problem: Estimating vs. Knowing

Many make-to-order manufacturers struggle to capture accurate cycle times. Traditional methods, such as relying on estimations or paper travelers, can be inaccurate and lead to inefficiencies. Inaccurate cycle times can make it difficult to:

  • Ensure jobs were profitable
  • Identify bottlenecks in production
  • Track improvements over time
  • Effectively schedule production runs

The Solution: Capturing Cycle Times at the Source

StartProto now has a new feature that tackles this head-on. When an operator logs a session and there's no data on expected cycle times, a quick modal window pops up. This prompts them to enter details like setup and run times directly. The new popup centers on the challenge of accurately capturing cycle times for operations. Without this data, companies struggle to assess their efficiency and profitability accurately. Capturing cycle times helps businesses determine if they can improve processes, need to improve to stay competitive, or should consider dropping unprofitable work. The concern is that without reliable data, companies may continue to produce goods at a loss, harming their overall profitability.

The pop up above prompts the user to enter setup time and runtime for the operation.

This popup window prompts the operator to enter the following information:

  • Setup time - preparing the machine, work area, or assembly for a specific manufacturing operation.
  • Run time - the period during which the machine or person is actively producing parts or products.

The Benefits: Improved Efficiency and Profitability

By capturing accurate cycle times, manufacturers can gain a number of benefits, including:

  1. Data Accuracy: By prompting users to enter cycle times immediately after logging a session, the feature seeks to eliminate the inaccuracies that come with manual, paper-based data capture or the retrospective entry of such data.
  2. Efficiency: It saves time by allowing operators to input data directly into the system rather than through paper records, which must be manually transcribed later.
  3. Real-Time Insights: Immediate data entry can provide real-time insights into operational efficiency, allowing for quicker schedule adjustments and improvements.
  4. Cost Reduction: The feature potentially reduces the costs associated with data entry errors and the manual transcription of paper records.
  5. Business Intelligence: With better data on cycle times, companies can make more informed decisions about pricing, cost management, and which jobs to accept, enhancing overall profitability.
  6. Usability and Adoption: A setting to turn off the prompt from the operator home screen offers flexibility for customers who may not want to use this feature, which will aid in software adoption by catering to individual customer preferences.

If you're interested in learning more about how our software can help you capture accurate cycle times, contact us today for a free trial.


In this blog post we address the challenge of capturing accurate cycle times in make-to-order manufacturing. We explain why this is important (improved efficiency and profitability) and the problems traditional methods cause (inaccurate quotes, missed bottlenecks).

The solution is within a StartProto feature that prompts operators to enter cycle time data directly when logging a session. This data can then be used to improve quoting, identify bottlenecks, track progress, and schedule production better.

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